Why Did Christ Die on the Cross?
- 2004 12 Mar
I heard the true story of a woman who was looking at crosses in a jewelry store. As the jeweler showed her various ones, she commented, “I like these, but do you have any that don’t have this little man on them?”
That is what people want today: A cross without Jesus. A cross without any offense. But how many people know what the cross really means? If we could be transported back in time and see the cross in its original context, we would realize that it was a bloody and vile symbol. It was the worst picture imaginable to see someone hanging on a cross.
Although crucifixion didn’t originate with the Romans, certainly they crucified more people than any other kingdom in history. Thousands of people were put to death on Roman crosses. The Romans chose crucifixion because it was meant to be a slow, torturous, and painful way to die. To die by crucifixion was essentially to die by suffocation. As the one condemned to die hung from the spikes thrust through his feet and hands, he would not be able to get air into his lungs. A small footrest at the base of the cross would enable the crucified to push himself up, get a gulp of air, and then sink back down again. Crucifixion was not designed to bring about a quick death; it was designed to humiliate a person.
Of course, Jesus knew from the very beginning that He had come to this earth to die for the sins of humanity. He also knew that He would make this sacrifice on a Roman cross. If there had been any other way, do you think that God would have sent His Son to suffer like this? If there had been any other way we could have been forgiven, then God surely would have found it. If living a good moral life would get us to heaven, then Jesus would have never died on the cross for us. But He did die, because there was and is no other way. He had to pay the price for our sin.
It all began in the Garden of Eden. Because Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit when God had said, “In the day you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17 nkjv), they not only faced physical death, but spiritual death as well. When Adam and Eve sinned, in principle, we all sinned (see Romans 5:12). Sin is like an infectious disease that has spread throughout humanity. We were all born with it.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to sin? We don’t need to be taught how to sin, but we must be taught how to do right. We must teach a child manners, but we don’t need to teach a child how to sin. It comes down to this: We are not sinners because we sin; rather, we sin because we are sinners. No matter how moral or religious we are, we still sin.
This is where the cross comes in, because we were separated from a holy and perfect God by our sin. But God loved us so much that He became a man and walked among us and went to a cross and died in our place and paid the price for every sin that we have ever committed.
The Bible says that when Jesus died on that cross, He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. At the cross, Jesus dealt a decisive blow against Satan and his demon powers. At the cross, Jesus purchased the salvation of the world. This message is so deep and profound that you could spend the rest of your life studying it and still not grasp its full significance. Yet it is so simple that even a child can understand it. Still, many people do not understand the significance of what took place on that Roman cross 2,000 years ago. Jesus died so that we might live.
If ever you are tempted to doubt God’s love for you, then take a long look at the cross. It wasn’t the spikes that held Jesus there. It was His love for you.